Monday, March 16, 2009

A Place at the Table

Isaiah McGee wrote an article at the Generation Iowa website about House File 572 that would put more Iowans age 18-35 on various boards and commissions around the state.

This fall the Generation Iowa Commission reported that only 114 of 1,533 commission or board seats were held by Iowans age 35 or younger. These boards and commissions help establish & execute statewide decisions including funding for projects & programs that are attractive to the next generation. The Generation Iowa Commission called for legislation that added young Iowans to appropriate boards and commissions related to economic development and quality of life amenities that are recipients of state funds and the commission has been lobbying for legislation to that effect this session.

In a year where Iowa’s natural disasters & economic issues have made it easy for the Legislature to say no to most request, they appear to welcome House File 572. HF 572 was filed last week to put at least two young Iowans, 18-35 years old, on a number of boards and commissions. These boards of influence include the Board of Regents, Vision Iowa, Iowa Great Places, ethnic & human rights commissions, and many others. The bill passed out of committee and has large bi-partisan support with nearly a quarter of the legislature co-sponsoring the bill. With the bill out of committee that means it has made it through funnel week, and waits for passage by the full Iowa House of Representatives and a repeated process in the State Senate.
This bill is one way to help reverse Iowa's brain drain. By showing that Iowa is willing to listen to young adults and give them a chance to shape the state, the state will become more welcoming to young adults.

I am active in my community where I serve as chair of a city commission, am a member of a county board, am active in my local teacher association, and am active with my county Democratic party. I know that if I lived elsewhere I would not have these opportunities to be active and influence local decisions that I care about.

My advice to young adults who might be considering getting involved is to just show up. From my experience many local communities have been run by the same core group for awhile and they are eager to have new people come in. So go out and fill out at the application to the city board or show up at the monthly meeting.

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